Every day that it was warm enough and the sun was shinning, after all of her house work was done, she could be found in her back yard soaking up the sun. With the help of baby oil. For hours on end. It was a ritual that I witnessed my entire youth. Back in the old days, the 70’s and 80’s.
Was she the darkest white lady in all the land? Yes, yes she was. She was so dark that until one of my children was quite old they thought she was a black woman. It didn’t help that her last name had the word black in it. I have a photograph of my young child sitting in her lap on a backyard swing. My child was as white as they come with bright white hair. In her lap my child looks like a ghost and she looks like a black woman. We lived in an all white neighborhood. This was a long time ago.
Did we think it was strange? I don’t think so. As a child and a teenager that was the only way I had ever seen her. She never lost enough of her tan in the winter to look white again. And her tan didn’t look bad. It wasn’t uneven or spotty. She was perfectly roasted. As a white un-tanable teenager I was very jealous. Her sister-in-law was almost the same way. They loved the sun and went to the beach for a week or two every summer come hell or highwater.
In spite of terrible family tragedy this woman was one of the happiest and most together women I knew. She ran her house with military precision. She sewed, she baked beautiful birthday cakes for everyone in the neighborhood on their birthdays. Her kids were always dressed nice and well-mannered. They all went to college, got married and had kids. This lady also smoked cigarettes and had two beers every night.
By todays standards this lady would be considered very unhealthy right? Of course she would. She probably looks like an old leather saddle now right? I think so. I haven’t seen her in many years. I have been told that she does indeed look bad and that yes she has had skin cancer. But if none of that happened until she was in her late 70’s then all in all is that really too bad? She has had a long life which she enjoyed to the best of her ability in light of a terrible family tragedy that she had to endure. If she had to do it all over again I doubt that she would give up any of her pleasures, they are part of what made her who she was. A hyper tanned mom who was not a freak. And yes her children often layed out with her but never tanned as well or as much as she did. They were a close happy family and still are.